Sunday, 29 November 2015

Cameroon and its Place Names

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time to cast my net a little wider. This time Cameroon and a look at some of its largest settlements and most interesting names and starting with the capital.

Yaounde is not the largest city, that title goes to Douala. Founded as Jeundo by German explorers in the 1880s, the German botanist August Zenker recorded the name as Jaunde, itself a German spelling of the name of the local Yaunde people who took their name from their agrarian lifestyle with the name translating as simply 'groundnut'.

Douala is first recorded under Portuguese rule, then known as Rio dos Camarons. From 1884 this was under the Germans and then Kamerunstadt or 'Cameroon city', until becoming Douala in 1907 and coming from the native peoples of Dua ala Ijaws.

Mokolo is dominated by two different peoples: the Mafa or Matakam people, whose name means 'well-dressed'; and the Fulani or Fulbe.

Ngaoundere is named after the nearby mountain, itself meaning 'the navel mountain'.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

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